Par panel to consider suggestions on Torture Bill
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 19:39
New Delhi: The differences over definition of 'torture' and the provision of monetary compensation for victims are some of the issues that a Parliamentary panel will seek to hammer out before finalising its report on the Prevention of Torture Bill ahead of the Winter Session.

The bill, which seeks to provide punishment for torture inflicted by public servants, was passed by the Lok Sabha in May this year. But following differences between members of the Rajya Sabha over wordings of the bill, it was referred to a select committee of the Upper House.

"The committee could consider suggestions to incorporate provisions for monetary compensation of the victims of torture payable by torturers," committee chairman and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar told reporters here today.

He said among other provisions, the definition of 'torture' in the proposed bill would be on the agenda of the committee expected to submit its recommendations to the Rajya Sabha by the first week of November.

There was a general feeling among members that the definition of 'torture' is not clear in the present laws.

To a question on whether the proposed pan India law will be applicable to areas under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, he said there was "no confrontation" between the two.

"No special or general law in the country is beyond constitution...and no law allows torture as a means to extract information," he said.

He said if an army personnel is accused of torture, he is tried under the Army Act..."and if a civilian public servant as defined in the law is accused of torture in an area where AFSPA is enforced, he can be tried under this stand alone law once it is passed by Parliament."

Kumar said the bill will also seek to ensure that the power of sanctioning prosecution under the proposed law lies with a senior officer to ensure transparency.

"A time-frame is also proposed to be set to ensure that sanctioning of prosecution is not delayed. The sanctioning authority will have to give in writing reasons for denying or approving the sanction," he said.

The proposed stand alone law will help India ratify a UN Convention on prevention of torture which it had signed in 1997.

Due to lack of an enabling domestic legislation, India has so far not been able to ratify the convention.


First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 19:39

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